DCLS Part of the Food Emergency Response Network
Friday, August 12, 2016
We have all heard about the Democratic and Republican National Conventions over the past month but did you know they have a common thread? Virginia’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS).
Virginia’s DCLS has a Food Emergency Response Network team, that prepared the meat to be shipped to six labs across the country for testing in preparation for the Democratic national convention and acted as the back-up lab for the Republican National Convention food.
Angela Fritzinger, deputy director of the state’s consolidated laboratory said for the Democratic convention food sample scientists at the Virginia lab were tasked with receiving, documenting, dividing and packaging it, before sending it to six other labs across the country for actual testing. As with evidence in a criminal case, the samples required a strictly documented chain of custody to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the tests.
Once the other labs in the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) received the samples they were tested for pathogens such as E. coli and listeria monocytogenes, just like samples randomly pulled for testing from grocery stores by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
However, the convention food had to pass additional tests. Fritzinger said the meat and poultry was also tested for substances such as anthrax and the bacteria that causes botulism poisoning, as well as poisons such as arsenic and strychnine. The labs also checked the meat for any traces of radioactive substances.
Virginia’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services was also involved in food safety testing for food used at the 2012 political conventions and President Obama’s 2013 inauguration.